Trusting Grateful Inspired Friday – the Art & Fear edition

Trusting – “The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars.” – David Bayles and Ted Orland in Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking. I’m trusting in this process. Another anecdote in the book has been really helpful in illustrating this point:

A ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weight the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds would be an A, forty pounds a B, and so on. Those being graded on “quality,” however, needed to produce only one poet – albeit a perfect on – to get an A. Well, came grading time a curious fact emerged: the works of the highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busy churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more the show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Trust in the fact that ten mediocre poems will be followed by one brilliant one, but to get to that shining one, you need to track through the mud of the prior ten.

Grateful – Between 2006 and 2009, my upcoming week would have been filled with discussions about writing, laughter shared among people for whom “the work” is the highest goal, mornings in a cathedral of thought and evenings sitting before mentors and friends listening to stories and poetry. Last year, I salved my “residency withdrawal” with Breadloaf. This year I have nothing on the burner but am thinking of those who are reading and those who are graduating. Wish I could be there with you all, but will content myself with being there in spirit.

Inspired – from Dan Albergotti’s book The Boatloads, which I have been forcing myself to read slowly rather than gulping it down in one evening:

“Song 378” by Dan Albergotti

They say grace is amazing
They say fools rush in.
Pope was a wise man. This is a song.

This is a song because it says song,
says song insistently, says sibilance.
Hisses a background for sharp notes.

It says there is a note that marries

skulls to smile, despair to hope

if only for one trembling moment.
It sounds the diphthong between birth
and death. This song says mystery.

When the great composer was asked to name
his favorite music, he said, No music.
The dead and dying sing a silent song.

3 Replies to “Trusting Grateful Inspired Friday – the Art & Fear edition”

  1. Is that how we come to be? Spun out on a pottery wheel by student potters? It would explain a lot.

  2. Thinking of you–just showed up at PLU, just met Stan and Judith! (Just got logged on, it took about 30 minutes with the very kind student assistants giving suggestions and cheering me on.) Can’t wait for it all to get started fully–many of your words guiding my path.

  3. Yay Ela! Have a fabulous time! Don’t forget that it’s okay to sometimes retreat to your room and have a bit of downtime. You’ll be awesome.

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